Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Door stop following the Second meeting of the Steering Committee for the Alice Springs Transformation Plan


JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks very much. I’m very pleased to be here with my Ministerial colleague the Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and the Northern Territory Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

We’ve just participated in the second meeting of the Steering Committee for the Alice Springs Transformation Plan and if I could first of all thank all members of the Steering Committee, in particular, the Chief Minister and his Minister, but also the Town Council Lhere Artepe and Tangentyere Council for agreeing to be on the Transformation Plan Steering Committee. This is an extremely important opportunity for us all to come together to work positively for the benefit of people who live here in Alice Springs. My primary objective is to get this Transformation Plan up and working as quickly as possible and there will of course be a program and time for consultation but we also want to get on with the job.

I’m very pleased to be able to announce today we’ve just agreed that the Federal Government with the Transformation Plan will implement a Communities for Children site here in Alice Springs. This will be a new program primarily funded by the Commonwealth. It will cost $3 million. Most of the money as I say will come from the Commonwealth, some of the money, $750,000, will come via the money we’ve already allocated for the Transformation Plan. These Communities for Children sites, there are many of them around Australia, are excellent examples of improved service delivery for families and children and this new site here in Alice Springs I hope will deliver the sort of services that children and families really need whether it’s improved playgroups, outreach services, support for families, ways that different services can come together and support families and children here in Alice Springs.

REPORTER: Is that on top of the $25 million?

JENNY MACKLIN: As I just mentioned, $750,000 of that $3 million will come out of the $25 million but the rest is on top.

REPORTER: And what was the mood of today’s meeting?

JENNY MACKLIN: Very, very positive. Everybody recognising that it’s critical that we have the sort of cooperation that this Transformation Steering Committee really demonstrates with all of us around the table, all of us there for one purpose, that is to improve the living conditions of people in Alice Springs.

REPORTER: Sorry, could I just ask you to repeat the last answer about the mood of the meeting?

JENNY MACKLIN: It was a very positive meeting, I think demonstrated by all of us being around the table with a shared purpose. All of us with a purpose to improve the living conditions of people here in Alice Springs. It’s all about us working together to that very common aim, and really wanting to get on with it.

REPORTER: And obviously Tangentyere was at the table today. Have you moved any closer to resolving the camps issue without a takeover?

JENNY MACKLIN: As you’re aware we’re in the middle of a notice period. I’ve given notice that I’m considering the compulsory acquisition of the housing leases on the town camps here in Alice Springs. That notice period goes until the end of July and so we’ll wait till that process unfolds. There hasn’t been any development on that today.

REPORTER: Were there any other decisions made in the meeting today?

JENNY MACKLIN: No, today was about all of us committing ourselves to this very important task and to recognising that we need to move as quickly as possible to get a clear plan, to get a timeline, so that we can get the transitional housing built, get the other services on the ground as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: And when is the next meeting?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well that will be a matter for the Committee. The Chief Minister and I, and Alison and Warren were very pleased to be able to come today but it would normally happen obviously by the others who were at the meeting.

REPORTER: Did Tangentyere add anything to this meeting?

JENNY MACKLIN: Tangentyere made it clear that they want to be active participants in the whole process of transformation and I welcome that.

REPORTER: Okay, shall we talk about the land hand backs that are happening today?


REPORTER: Can you just outline what exactly is happening?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, we’ll be going out there shortly and I’d really encourage you to come. This is a very, very significant occasion, particularly for the traditional owners and if I can really recognise that we at the Commonwealth level and the Northern Territory understand just how significant it is. The Governor General has signed the deeds and she has done so on behalf of the Australian people. So it is a very, very significant day. We certainly recognise that it wouldn’t have happened without the dedication of my colleagues from the Northern Territory, their willingness to be part of this major hand back today. But I’d also like to recognise the involvement of Aboriginal leaders in being willing to lease the land and these very significant sites back to the National Parks so that both traditional owners and of course other Australians are going to be able to continue to enjoy these places that have great significance culturally but also of course are places of enormous natural beauty.

REPORTER: The Karlu Karlu hand back I guess was framed in a long history of fighting to get the rights over that land, what’s some of the history of the land that’s being handed back today?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course it’s taken a very long time and it’s also taken a lot of work by many people including the representatives of the traditional owners, the Central Land Council, and I congratulate them for their dedication to this work as well. But it’s been done now and I think the important thing is to celebrate it, to celebrate it with the traditional owners, to celebrate it with other Australians who are going to be able to recognise these places of great cultural significance and fantastic natural beauty.

REPORTER: Will you be pushing to put in place exemptions to alcohol prohibition in these areas because they are being handed back?

JENNY MACKLIN: They’re issues for another day, I haven’t given any consideration to those matters.

REPORTER: Will there be any other stipulations on how that may (inaudible)

JENNY MACKLIN: As I say I haven’t given any other, any further consideration to these matters. They will become part of the Territory Parks estate and that of course is also a very important part of what’s happening today and another reason why I congratulate the Chief Minister and the Indigenous Affairs Minister from the Northern Territory for their active involvement.

REPORTER: There was quite strong local opposition to the Parks handover….

WARREN SNOWDON: From some quarters. Very, very few people demonstrated a lot of opposition. Let me talk about this because it’s very clear that there’s a great deal of support in the community for this approach because not only do Aboriginal people benefit but the other direct beneficiaries is the rest of the Australian population will now have well managed parks under the auspices of the Northern Territory Government leased from Aboriginal people who will be part of the process of joint management and everyone will benefit. So the critics, whoever they are, I’m sure once they see the outcomes here, will see it as a very positive thing not only for Alice Springs, for the Northern Territory and indeed Australia. Because when we advertise Alice Springs we like to tell the good story. The good story here is the cultural, the way in which we recognise aboriginal culture and the way in which we invite people to go to aboriginal land in the way in which this has happened. A very positive thing to happen.

REPORTER: Do you have a view about the locked up land?

WARREN SNOWDON: There’s no land that’s been locked up. Let’s be very clear about it, you know it, I know it, no land has been locked up.

PAUL HENDERSON: Can I just to say in regards to that. It really was a political campaign that was run by the CLP. The CLP ran a scurrilous scare campaign. They talked about land being taken from the people, nothing could be further from the truth. They even (inaudible) akin to Bondi Beach being taken away from all Australians. There was an outrageous political campaign by the CLP. It shows that the CLP is like a leopard, it will never lose its spots. They will continue to campaign against the rights of Indigenous people and I’m so proud to be here today with Jenny, Warren and Alison in terms of doing the right thing, recognising the rights of Indigenous people to these parks and really importantly, and certainly something Alison’s absolutely passionate about, putting in place joint management boards where Indigenous people are at the table, on the boards, running the parks, looking at opportunities for Indigenous people in terms of park rangers, tourism opportunities, this really is a win win. The only people who really opposed this were the CLP for their own reasons.

REPORTER: Chief Minister I can imagine that it would take a lot more money and a lot more funding to partake in joint management, are you putting any more extra resources into joint management of parks?

PAUL HENDERSON: Well certainly this is an issue going forward. Today is about handing back the parks to traditional owners, sitting down with traditional owners, putting in place management plans. The first thing that will happen now is traditional owners will sit down with parks people and actually put in place a management plan for these parks and if there are aspirations from the traditional owners in terms of tourism opportunities, other opportunities, we’ll look at those as they evolve.

REPORTER: Any do you have a view on whether they should be made exempt from the alcohol prohibition?

PAUL HENDERSON: Oh look, let’s get, let’s celebrate today. Let’s celebrate today, do the right thing, get a win win for everyone. I’m looking forward to the hand back.

REPORTER: Yes, if I could just put to you, Peter Costello, the former Federal Treasurer, was in Darwin today at a (inaudible) lunch here..

PAUL HENDERSON: Oh was he. How delightful.

REPORTER: He did say he has criticised your Government for its economic management, that the NT budget is now in deficit, that the GST revenue has not been taken advantage of and that Territorians will have to pay, what do you have to say?

PAUL HENDERSON: Oh look, isn’t Peter Costello a bit irrelevant these days? We are the victims of the global financial crisis the same as every other Australian, every other Australian Government. Our budget has gone into temporary deficit on the back of six surplus budgets that we have brought down. Our debt ratios are much better than when the CLP were in Government. We’ve been a responsible financial manager. We’ve seen economic growth outpace the rest of the nation for the last three to four years. We’re still seeing strong employment growth and certainly anything that Peter Costello has to say today is really history tomorrow.